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On June 10, activists rallied in front of Martin Luther King Jr. Library in San José to protest the unjust prosecution of 66-year-old Palestinian-American activist Rasmea Odeh. Last October, Homeland Security agents arrested Odeh after the Department of Justice charged her with “unlawful procurement of naturalization.” The Obama administration’s filing of these charges could result in her being stripped of her U.S. citizenship and deported.
The DOJ alleges that she improperly omitted mention in the application of having been in prison in Israel, but supporters claim the facts tell a different story. Odeh was arrested by Israeli soldiers as a 21-year-old university student in her home in Ramallah, but she was tortured, along with her father, for 45 days, and sentenced to prison for a crime she did not commit.
Odeh is well known in Chicago, where she has worked as associate director of the Arab American Action Network to defend civil liberties and promote immigrant rights. Last year, the Chicago Cultural Alliance bestowed on her its Outstanding Community Leader Award in recognition of her devoting “over 40 year of her life to the empowerment of Arab women.”
Laurie Valdez writes:
My name is Laurie Valdez. On February 21, 2014, my partner Antonio Guzman Lopez was murdered at the hands of San Jose State University Police Department Sgt. Mike Santos, who claims he did it in defense of fellow UPD officer Frits Van der Hoek.
The incident happened right by a childcare center and in front of a sorority house. Clearly Santos had no concern for the safety of others or the fellow officer who, according to Santos, was standing right in front of Antonio, thus placing him in the line of fire. I hope Officer Santos, is aware of how many lives were affected by his actions. There was clearly a complete disregard for the safety of children, students, neighbors, and another officer! A community is traumatized, and they now fear for their own safety!
No justice can be given to Antonio because he is no longer here. But our son Josiah, who is 4 years old, deserves justice for having to grow up without his daddy for the rest of his life. Josiah and Antonio had a lifetime of love to be shared and it was taken away from both of them. Josiah is left here to suffer without his daddy to hold him, hug him, or go to his first day of school. This is all because of the actions of Officer Mike Santos, and those who have persisted in remaining silent or continue to cover up his murder.
See Also: The Anatomy of Police Murder and Cover Up
| Laurie Valdez of Justice For Josiah interview on Setting the Standard
Donald Williams Jr., a black student at San Jose State University and a resident of Santa Cruz, filed a $5 million claim
on March 19 against the institution, which alleges breach of contract, breach of duty, negligence, and violation of the Unruh Act. The claim stems from alleged hate crimes committed against Williams in his SJSU dorm room by three of his housemates in the Fall of 2013.
In February, an independent fact finding report was released that outlined the incidents. The report states that the series of events occurred over the course of the semester, between late August and early October of 2013, and the University became aware of the Victim’s situation on October 13. Williams' parents were visiting their son's accommodations on that date when they observed a Confederate flag in the common area and a racial slur written on a whiteboard. Williams' parents then reported their observations to the Resident Assistants (“RA”) on duty. Additional incidents were subsequently revealed: Williams had a bicycle U-lock forcibly placed around his neck, which injured him, and he was also barricaded in his bedroom by the suspects.
After the incidents became public, large protest rallies were held at the university organized by the SJSU Black Student Union, which demanded change at the university, including protecting its African American studies courses.
Read More | See Also: SJSU Releases Hate Crime Report
| San Jose State University Hate Crime Deplorable
On March 19, a group of more than 60 protesters demonstrated at the Hewlett-Packard shareholders' meeting because of its business dealings with the Israeli military. They said HP is complicit in oppressing Palestine because it makes the technology for biometric cards that contain large amounts of data on the card carrier. Those cards are used by Israel to segregate and discriminate against Palestinians.
While protesters sang and chanted loudly in front of the Santa Clara Convention Center, some members of the "Stop HP Coalition" inside the shareholders' meeting introduced a proposal calling for an in-depth look at HP's dealings with the Israeli military and its human rights abuses. Although the measure was defeated by 83%, speakers in favor of the proposal, including two Presbyterian (USA) ministers, pressed their case, forcing HP CEO Meg Whitman to acknowledge it; Whitman said that the company "will look into this."
Human rights activists who organized the day's events say the task ahead is to get HP to agree to keep their commitments to meet with the coalition and to look into the issues brought forward. The Coalition to Stop HP includes: The American Friends Service Committee, Jewish Voice for Peace: Bay Area, South Bay and Santa Cruz chapters, Global Exchange, UC Berkeley Students for Justice in Palestine, Northern California Friends of Sabeel, and San Francisco Veterans for Peace.
Photos: 1 | 2
Jewish Voice for Peace | Friends of Sabeel | San Francisco Veterans for Peace | American Friends Service Committee
On March 1, urban farmers demonstrated at Sprouts grocery chain locations in Petaluma, Fremont, Sunnyvale, and Mountain View. The farmers oppose plans to develop the Gill Tract. Boycott Sprouts is asking shoppers to patronize other stores until Sprouts backs away from the development deal. On March 5, the Albany City Council approved paving six acres of the Gill Tract. In response to the council's vote, Occupy the Farm has called for a rally on March 12
Called organismo modificado genéticamente or organismo transgénico in Spanish, genetically modified organisms (GMO) were the topic of the day on October 12, in conjunction with a global day of action
. Members of La Defensa del Maiz San José gathered in front of San Jose City Hall to protest Monsanto's corporate control of food.
Sergio Nesaulakoyotl Martinez of La Defensa shook a sheath of black corn and called out "Adelante! Forward!" for victory over Monsanto's "heinous rule." While some speakers called out for labeling, others said, "ban the GMOs and jail the corporate criminals!"
La Defensa del Maiz San José was joined by the Raging Grannies (Las Abuelitas Enojadas), members of the San Jose Peace and Justice Center, and others concerned for food safety. Food Not Bombs provided lunch. Also speaking at the event were representatives of the Green Party and Move to Amend. Barry Chang of Cupertino, who is running for political office, summed up the sentiment of the protesters saying, "corporations lie."
Read More with Photos
As the U.S. government marched towards war with Syria in late August, anti-war groups and activists across the state responded with two weeks of emergency demonstrations. The ANSWER Coalition organized a series of protests, and actions were planned for the offices of Nancy Pelosi, Dianne Feinstein, and Barbara Boxer. Events were also held at well known anti-war protest locations such as Peace Crossroads in San Jose and on Ocean Street in Santa Cruz.
On August 6
, San Jose Justice for Trayvon Martin held a rally at San Jose City Hall, followed by a march downtown where the group circled the federal building. San Jose Justice for Trayvon Martin is "a local mass multi-issue campaign made up of San Jose and larger Silicon Valley community members acting in support of the larger Movement of Justice for Trayvon Martin and Marissa Alexander."
San Jose Justice for Trayvon Martin has adapted the following Demands from Justice 4 Trayvon Martin, Los Angeles: Federal Charges against Zimmerman; FREE Marissa Alexander; No More New Jail and Prison Construction; End Gang Injunctions & Database; and Community Control Over All Law Enforcement With an Elected Civilian Review Board.
It was announced that the next big event planned by San Jose Justice for Trayvon Martin will be a town hall meeting held in September.
Read More with Photos and Video | Draft Statement by Justice For Trayvon Martin - San Jose
Previous Coverage: Trayvon Martin Solidarity Demos Sweep Bay Area
Following the acquittal of Trayvon Martin's killer, George Zimmerman, on July 13, hundreds took to the streets in Napa, Oakland, Sacramento, San Francsisco, San Jose, and Santa Cruz. At rallies, candle light vigils, and marches, community members have called for justice for Trayvon and an end to the racial profiling and police abuses that occur on a day-to-day basis across the country. Demonstrations for justice continue locally and nationally.
Joining a global day of protest against Monsanto and the genetically modified food it produces, protesters rallied in the cities of Merced, San José, Santa Cruz, and San Francisco on May 25. Around the world protests were held in more than 400 cities, giving popular voice to the growing outrage over Monsanto's agribusiness practices that put small farmers out of business and public health at risk.
On March 23
, the San Jose Black Berets por la Justicia organized a walk through the city of San Jose, in unity and prayer for the love of the community. The walk began at Lincoln High School, site of the first Barrios Unidos conference, with a sunrise ceremony.
The Walk for Peace is a spiritual peace walk continuing the Black Berets' four directions ceremonies, and there were four stops/ceremonies in San Jose. The first was at juvenile hall, then on to Backdesto Park, Plata Arroyo Park, with the final ceremony being held at Mexican Heritage Plaza. The events are organized twice a year, and the idea is to walk in a good way to honor, and hopefully bring some peace, to those that have died through colonization and all of the resulting traumas that afflict the community, including gang violence, alcoholism, violence against women, and more.
"We believe in the power of the people to create positive and lasting change. This is why we call for unity and dialog against violence across all nationalities and cultures," The Black Berets said in a press release for the walk.